tv PBS News Hour PBS November 17, 2014 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: u.s. intelligence officials work to identify islamic state militants seen in recent videos after the execution of american aid worker peter kassig. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. also ahead this monday, we dig deep into the health problems veterans say are caused by burn pits where everything from chemicals to vehicles have been set on fire near military bases iraq and afghanistan. >> there was rolely no place to escape. the smoke would blow across you. you would turn your back to it and hope that the wind would change. i used to run five-minute miles.
now i can't walk down the block without breathing real heavy. >> woodruff: federal investigators' surprise inspection of the national football league to see if its use of prescription painkillers is out of bounds. >> ifill: plus, scientists race to measure the size of alaska's glaciers before they disappear. >> most glaciers in alaska are retreating. we'd like to be able to predict with better accuracy of what will happen, but it's hard to imagine a scenario there where glaciers will not continue to lose mass in this area. the question is how fast? >> woodruff: those are some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years.
bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer. >> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: another american family mourned today for a son
slaughtered by islamic state killers in syria. peter kassig's death was confirmed over the weekend. >> our hearts are battered but they will mend, the world is broken but it will be healed in the end. >> ifill: ed and paula kassig appeared this afternoon in indianapolis, 24 hours after learning of their son's murder. mrs. kassig quoted one of his teachers. >> in 26 years, he has witnessed and experienced first hand, more than most of us can imagine. and experienced first hand, more of the harsh realities of life than most of us can imagine. but rather than letting the darkness overwhelm him, he has chosen to believe in the good-- in himself and in others. peter's life is evidence that he has been right all along: one person makes a difference. >> ifill: islamic state fighters released a propaganda video yesterday showing the decapitated head of peter
kassig. >> ifill: later, president obama confirmed and condemned kassig's killing in a statement, calling it an "act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity." but secretary of state john kerry insisted today, the group, also known as isil, has miscalculated. >> isil's leaders assumed that the world would be too intimidated to oppose them. well, let us be clear-- we are not intimidated. >> ifill: peter kassig served in iraq as an army ranger in 2007. after a medical discharge, he founded an aid group in syria in 2012. he was taken captive in october of last year, and converted to islam, as several other western captives have done, taking the name "abdul-rahman". last month, his parents acknowledged his conversion, and appealed for his release. >> we implore those who are holding you to show mercy and use their power to let you go.
>> ifill: but it was all for naught. in yesterday's video, a black- hooded figure with a british accent, apparently the same man seen in previous beheadings, identified his new victim as "peter edward kassig, a u.s. citizen who fought against the muslims in iraq." unlike past videos, this one did not show kassig's actual killing. but it did show more than a dozen captured syrian soldiers being beheaded by militants, possibly including this man, from an earlier video. >> all you who believe, answer the call of allah and his messenger, when he calls you to what gives you life. what gives you life is jihad. >> ifill: the father of nasser muthana, a british medical student, said his son resembles one of the militants in the latest video. and in paris, officials said a 22-year-old frenchman was likely among the executioners as well. all told, islamic state forces have killed five westerners since august.
syrian civilians have paid a far more fearsome toll. the syrian observatory for human rights reported today more than 1,400 have been beheaded, stoned to death or had their throats cut since june. islamic state militants still hold a british photojournalist, john cantlie, and an american woman. u.s. officials have asked that she not be publicly identified. >> woodruff: missouri governor jay nixon declared an emergency and activated the national guard today. he acted before a grand jury decides whether to indict a white police officer in ferguson, in the killing of michael brown. the august shooting sparked violent protests. the st. louis mayor said the guard will back up police, but will not engage directly with protesters. >> ifill: fresh off a major emissions-cutting deal with china, the obama administration is turning to fighting climate change at the local level. vice president biden met today with governors, mayors and
tribal leaders about coping with severe weather. white house officials also laid out measures to help local leaders get ready for rising sea levels, drought and other events. >> woodruff: a doctor who contracted ebola in sierra leone died today at a hospital in omaha, nebraska. martin salia was flown to the u.s. from west africa on saturday. the 44-year-old surgeon initially tested negative for ebola in sierra leone. by the time he tested positive and was sent to omaha, the disease was far advanced. he had no kidney function. he was working extremely hard to breathe and was unresponsive. we gave it everything we could. all modern medical therapies were provided and we wish there could have been a different outcome but i'm proud of the team for trying.
>> woodruff: also today, u.s. airports began screening travelers arriving from mali for symptoms of ebola. several cases have appeared there in recent days. >> ifill: efforts to stop an outbreak of bird flu ramped up in the netherlands and britain today. the dutch government ordered the killing of 150,000 chickens on a farm where the disease was found. 6,000 ducks at a breeding farm in northern england were to be destroyed, and a restriction zone imposed. but officials said there's little risk to public health. separately, a woman in egypt died of a more dangerous strain of bird flu. it's the second fatality there this year. >> woodruff: the first spacecraft to land on a comet has gone silent, after running out of power. but european scientists said today they're holding out hope the small lander will eventually wake up. the lander ended up in the shadow of a cliff where its
solar panels can't charge the battery. mission scientists said today that as the comet races toward the sun, the battery may yet charge and let the spacecraft resume its work. >> ifill: the world's third largest economy, japan, has unexpectedly fallen into a new recession. officials in tokyo announced today that overall economic output shrank in the third quarter at an annual rate of 1.6%. by comparison, the u.s. economy grew at a 3.5% pace. >> woodruff: and on wall street, stocks struggle to make much headway. the dow jones industrial average gained 13 points to close at 17,647; the nasdaq fell 17 points to close at 4,671; and the s&p 500 gained just a point, to finish at 2,041. >> ifill: still to come on the newshour. a new political firestorm around the federal heath care law. how american soldiers are haunted by the battle field burn pits. senator john mccain on the lives of thirteen soldiers who fought in thirteen different wars. investigating the n.f.l.'s use of painkillers to keep players in the game.
and, scientists track the decline of alaska's glaciers. >> woodruff: this weekend marked the start of a new round of enrollment for insurance coverage on the health exchanges. but even as the obama administration heralded the much smoother opening of the healthcare.gov website, there was serious political blowback about the law. last week, a video from 2013 came to light featuring m.i.t. economist jonathan gruber, a former adviser to the administration, and paid consultant who received $400,000 for his work during the creation and passage of the affordable care act. he was an architect of the massachusetts law that preceded the federal law. gruber spoke at a conference in pennsylvania in october 2013 and here's a clip where he talks about how congress would pay for the law when it comes to mandates and taxes.
and how voters might see that. >> this bill was written in a way to make sure they did not have the mandated taxes. in terms of subsidies, a law which said healthy people would pay in and sick people get money, it would have not passed. just like people's lack of transparency is a huge political advantage and basically call stupidity of the american voter or whatever but basically that was really critical to get it passed. >> woodruff: yesterday, president obama was asked by a reporter about gruber's comments and the idea that the true intentions of the law were not transparent to voters. here's part of what he said in response while in brisbane, australia. >> the fact that some advisor who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that i
completely disagree with in terms of the voters is no reflection on the actual process that was run. we had a year-long debate. go back and look at your stories. the one thing we can't say is we did not have a lengthy debate about healthcare in the united states of america or that it was not adequately covered. >> woodruff: let's dive a bit deeper into jonathan gruber's >> i think gruber's comments show what is consistent in washington, d.c. is this arrogance of centralized government. this administration believes they're smarter than everyone else and they just need to create the policy and impose the policy and states exist only to carry out their wishes from the central government. i think that's backwards. the best thing to do is return h >> woodruff: let's dive a bit
ealthcare decisions back to states, back to local authorities. >> woodruff: let's dive a bit deeper into jonathan gruber's history here, as well as how the opening weekend of year two on insurance enrollment went. julie rovner of kaiser health news. and, louise radnofsky of "the wall street journal" join me. before we get to mr. gruber, let me ask you about signup this weekend. louise, how did it go? smoother than last year? >> smoother than last year. relatively few bumps, some returning to the site, some of which were ironed out over the weekend. potential for new bumps in the next few days. traffic was higher today than over the weekend and could present challenges but bigger challenges to come a week from now. >> woodruff: what kind of bumps? >> some forgot passwords, or put in or changed passwords and couldn't get in.
it's important for people who are covered through the exchanges to go through the process again. if their income has changed, they need to plug that in, in many cases, the prices of plans have changed. so being reenrolled in their current plan would be bad for people who currently have coverage. they need to look for what's out there. >> woodruff: you say things will get more complicated. what are you referring to? >> one of the problems is people going back to the site and shop. there are things at the back-end that matter a lot. >> woodruff: the back-end? the underlying infrastructure. what people see as a smoother application process. one piece that's missing is the ability off the site to inform the insurer is enrolling in another plan which may lead them to be enrolled in two plans at the end of the year. >> woodruff: they're working to make sure that country happen? >> they should contact the
insurance company they're leaving to inform of that in case the rest of the system doesn't make that information change. >> woodruff: contact them directly. it goes up february 15. >> if you want a plan for january 1, you have to sign up by december 15. this is a condensed period of signup compared to last year where there were six months. anybody who wants coverage should finish by december 15. >> woodruff: jonathan gruber, we heard the comments about him doing contract work with the obama administration. he first worked to develop the massachusetts healthcare law under then governor mitt romney. julie, you covered the obama healthcare debate internally from the very beginning. what was his role here and how did it play off what he did in massachusetts, he obviously was
integral to what happened in massachusetts but his main role with the affordable care act is he developed a microstimulation model and basically you can plug things in, possible policy changes and see sort of how they might play out both in terms of the policy and in terms of how much they cost and that's what the administration contracted with him for. he contracted out with several states to look at the same thing. he's known for his microstimulation model. there's not the impression he was in the room when all the key decisions were made but he certainly was involved. >> woodruff: that's the question because some have called him an architect of the healthcare law. how central was he to all this? >> he's certainly one of many, many central figures which is not a very helpful bit of information to people at this stage. but there were agencies working on this from the white house and there were officials in many different congressional offices, and outside as well including some in academia.
so there's no shortage of people involved. involvement often rises when they're in the spotlight. >> woodruff: julie, what about the substance of what he was saying that the administration was concealing from the public that this was a tax as the supreme court later found it to be? >> there were a lot of interpretations of. this one of the things i think he may have been referring to is they didn't want to call ate tax while it was being debated because there were so many blue-dog, moderate democrats who didn't want to have the tax label hung around them if they were going to vote for this. remember the republicans had taken a pass so they needed all the democrats from the senate and almost all in the house and they had the blue dogs who were very concerned about voting for this. so some of this i think was just semantics. they didn't want to call it a tax. interestingably, in gruber's own book, he talks about how, with insurance, the sick have to pay for the healthy and young pay for the old and that's the idea
that everybody pays and a few get. so it was odd to hear him say something like that. >> woodruff: whether he said it because of what was going on, how much was that viewed shared inside the administration based on your reporting on this, louise? >> one of the key issues he's saying is it plays into fears of conservative pundits of the law like senator langford that this was in some way a con or lack of transparency, run down people's throats without their involvement. gruber's comments in the past caused consternation was he's talking about a substantive issue rather than a framing issue. >> woodruff: julie, what's your sense of how widely shared the view was he expressed that the voters, you know, they're not going to understand this and, therefore, we don't need to
be completely transparent? >> nobody in politics would say that, which shows why he's an economist in academia and not a politician, and i think that's why you see the president and health and human services secretary distance themselves from him and the comments. it was a very impoll tick in the literal sense of the word to say. but i think the problem was there was a pile of dry kindling among the republicans to find out what to do about this law they and they perceive the public don't like. >> woodruff: how many additional damage? we already see public opinion continuing to drop in support of the healthcare law. how much does this hurt what the administration is trying to do? >> well, the timing is very particular to the open enrollment. it's been building all week but seemed to explode into more
mainstream attention at the time it opened and that may or may not be an accident where the supreme court is wrestling with the supreme court case which launched it wasself before the enrollment. there are a lotto juggle. >> woodruff: a lot to keep abeye on beside the opening this weekend. louise radnofsky, julie rovner, we thank you. >> ifill: brain injury and post- traumatic stress disorder are two well known signature wounds of the wars in iraq and afghanistan. but, there is another injury, lung disease, that afflicts tens of thousands of veterans. many blame a single defense contractor, and have filed a class action lawsuit a case that has now made its way to the supreme court. newshour producer dan sagalyn has been looking into this, and hari sreenivasan has his report.
>> hey, there is a burn pit down here. >> sreenivasan: this shaky video of smoke from burning garbage was shot by an american soldier in iraq in 2008. throughout most of the wars in iraq and afghanistan, the military used so-called burn pits to dispose of virtually all waste. all kinds of things went up in smoke, from batteries, paint, solvents and tires, to newspapers, plastic water bottles, styrofoam, electronic equipment, and shipping materials such as plastic wrap. even whole vehicles were burned. at large bases 30 to 40 of tons garbage were burned every day. at the gigantic logistical hubs, three to five times that amount was burned. sometimes jet fuel was even used to ignite the trash. according to the veterans we spoke to, the smoke from the burn pits permeated the living quarters and work spaces on
base. >> there was really no place to escape. the smoke would blow across you, you'd turn your back to it and hope that the wind would change. >> you have to breath or you die. and sometimes even the soot would fly out of the burn pits and get on your uniform or get on your vehicle. >> at night when the winds dropped that's when you did not want to the burn pits to be operating because it would blanket the base. >> sreenivasan: these three officers, army sergeant first class steven gardner, army lieutenant colonel rick lamberth and marine corps lieutenant colonel brian bower, were medically retired from the military. they say the burn pit smoke was toxic and made them sick.
>> i used to run five minute miles, now i can't walk down the block without breathing real heavy. i can't carry objects without getting out of breath, i have a tightness constantly in my chest. >> i no longer can run. i don't have the stamina that i had at one time. i could go run five or six miles at a time, 10k at a time. >> a lot of times even during the day i cough and people look at me like i'm a smoker. >> i believe that i have lung cancer as a result of exposure to the burn pits. i'm not a smoker. i was diagnosed within a year after leaving active duty, and the diagnosis came from the veteran's administration. it was diagnosed as exposure to burn pits and i had part of my lung removed. >> sreenivasan: these men are part of a class action lawsuit which has 250 named plaintiffs. but they represent a group of potentially up to 100,000 veterans and civilian contractors who could join suit. they're suing kellog, brown and root, or k.b.r., the company that used to be a subsidiary of halliburton and was contracted to provide logistical support to the military in iraq and afghanistan. it was k.b.r.'s job to truck in supplies, feed troops, and get rid of the garbage. >> we've outlawed burning of
waste in this country for decades. you cannot go in your backyard and burn all your trash in a bucket. and the reason why is that it's known to be harmful to human health. >> sreenivasan: susan burke is the lead attorney for the class action lawsuit. she says k.b.r. was negligent and made the service members sick. >> one of the things that they promised to do was to take care of the waste. to dispose of the waste in a manner that was not harmful to the troops. they didn't do that. so, the complaint alleges that that open air burning which violated the terms of the contract, caused these injuries. >> that's completely false. we exactly lived up to our contractual promise. >> sreenivasan: robert matthews is the lead counsel for k.b.r. he points to a letter from the commander of coaltion forces in iraq, general david petraeus, to congress written in 2008 saying "there is and will continue to be a need for burn pits during contingency operations." the government accountability office issued a report confirming that the top military commanders approved the use of
these open-air fires. >> the decisions to use burn pits were made by senior military rank across these war theaters. >> sreenivasan: matthews says other alternatives were not feasible. burying the refuse off base was too risky. burying it on base, well there wasn't enough space. there was no recycling in iraq and afghanistan. and it was up to the military to decide if it wanted to bring in incinerators which burn cleanly. he says historically the army always burned its garbage in war zones because it's the least bad option. >> more than 50% of the burn pits that are in play around iraq and afghanistan through that 10 year period were operated by the military itself. not by k.b.r. or other contractors. >> sreenivasan: the class action lawsuit has been in the courts since 2008. earlier this year the fourth circuit court of appeals ruled the case should go forward.
but k.b.r. has asked the supreme court to intervene. the company asserts that just like the government has immunity and can't be sued, it too should have immunity. >> where the united states is at war in the battlefield engaged in combatant activities, the companies like k.b.r. who are embedded with the forces, who were performing mission critical services, should not be subject to the kind of claims that have been made here. if the united states is immune from such claims, so too should k.b.r. and those other contractor companies. >> sreenivasan: susan burke disagrees. >> what they're trying to say is that simply because they work for the government, they are the government. we know that's not the case. this is a private company that's making a huge profit margin. they are not the government and they don't deserve the government immunities. >> sreenivasan: by 2010 the military eventually shipped in nearly 40 incinerators to iraq and 20 to afghanistan. although the veterans we spoke to said they often were not used. besides these legal issues, there is debate over how much
burn pits contributed to people's illnesses. craig postlewaite is a top official in the defense department's public health division. he says it's possible some soldiers got sick from inhaling burn pit smoke, but not likely that many were affected. >> it would be plausible for a specific individual to acquire some condition related to burn pit inhalation depending on how close they were to the burn pit, how much smoke they breathe, individual susceptibilities and even exposure to other airborne particulates. we feel that if there are people who have been harmed by burn pit emissions, the numbers are fairly low. >> sreenivasan: postlewaite points to many other pollutants in the air that could have caused veterans respiratory problems. >> it's a very, very dusty environment. plus, the urban pollutants
aren't regulated well. the cars and trucks are not regulated so there's a lot of airborne material in the air that could be contributory to long-term health effects. >> sreenivasan: but dr. anthony szema sees a direct connection between sick veterans and the burn pits. at stony brook school of medicine, where he does research, he's exposed mice to dust from military bases in iraq that had burn pits. >> in this healthy mouse we then gave dust from camp victory iraq collected in 2007 at the time they had burn pits and the dust induces a lung injury. >> sreenivasan: szema has a private practice and is also a doctor at northport veterans affairs medical center, although the views he expresses here are his own. >> humans exposed to particulate matter air pollution have a higher risk of death, premature death. they have higher risk of lung disease such as premature emphysema or chronic pulmonary obstructive disease even in the absence of smoking. as well as asthma. benzene is a carcinogen so if you burn your trash with jet fuel called jp8 when you burn in
a burn pit its burning at low heat. at low heat it generates more particles and has products of incomplete combustion. these products are dangerous. in addition, if you burn plastic water bottles among the chemicals you can release include a neurotoxic called n- hexane. >> sreenivasan: while the lawyers and the health professionals debate the legal and medical issues, the veterans we spoke to compare their experiences to soldiers exposed to agent orange in vietnam, the defoliant the army used which caused cancer, nerve damage and respiratory injury in hundreds of thousands of soldiers. marine corps lieutenant colonel brian bower. >> nobody went out to purposefully hurt again, soldiers airmen sailors and marines. but people are suffering from exposure to it afterwards. and the military's response has been very similar to agent orange. which was at first denial, assessment, acceptance of culpability, and treatment. we seem to be going through
those same phases now. >> sreenivasan: the veterans we spoke to say while they wish they weren't sick, they'd still serve in iraq and afghanistan all over again. >> i'm proud of my military service. i'm proud of what the military has done over there. if i had known that this would be my outcome i still would have continued and done exactly the same thing. >> sreenivasan: meanwhile, k.b.r. says if they and other battlefield defense contractors are allowed to be sued, it's unlikely they would deploy with the military in the next war. >> if they are exposed to these lawsuits for decades of litigation and potentially tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars in liabilities, then it's very likely that these companies are going to think twice about stepping forward the next time this country goes to war. >> sreenivasan: the supreme court is now in the process of deciding whether or not to hear this case or send it back to a lower court where it can go to trial. for the pbs newshour i'm hari
sreenivasan. >> woodruff: if you would like more on this story go to our website for extended interviews and a slideshow of burn pit photos submitted to us by those who served in iraq and afghanistan. >> ifill: now, one of the nation's most famous veterans takes a look at american heroes from each of the nation's conflicts most largely unknown in a new book, "thirteen soldiers: a personal history of america at war" the authors are senator john mccain and his longtime collaborator mark salter. i sat down today with the arizona republican to talk about the book, and also about what to expect from the new republican senate majority. senator mccain, thank you for joining us. in your latest book you decided to write about 13 soldiers, not yourself, and from the revolutionary war to our latest enterprises in afghanistan and
iraq. is there a line of similar later between all of those? >> i think there is a similar later in that, no matter where they came from or what their gender or race was, that they were dedicated to serving the country, sometimes with honor and integrity and sometimes maybe not so much, but with courage. they served with courage, and i think they epito mizeed many aspects of that particular conflict. in other words, plum martin who was in the revolutionary war at 15 literally almost starved to death. >> ifill: and died in poverty. yes, and without a pension. actually, took him 30 years for a pension, but compare that with mike monsieur who is a man who sacrificed his life for others.
it wasn't a question or food or equipment. it was a dramatic change, but each of them served and sacrificed, and ordinary people who did extraordinary things. >> ifill: michael monsieur, of course, threw himself on a grenade and got the medal of honor. you remember a time when vietnam veterans weren't treated with respect. have you seen that evolve over time or are we, as americans, still basically stuck in a position where we say, thank you for your service, but don't know what else to do with that? >> i think we've come a long way from joseph martin when they all rightly were discharged and given pieces of paper that they could convert into money or services to today where we do a great deal. but i think there's been ups and downs. after the vietnam war, unfortunately, as you know, many people blame the veteran and the young 18, 19-year-old draftee. i think it's a very shameful
chapter. but i think we're also trying to make up for that and i think we are making up for it. i see companies and corporations stepping up. i'm proud of my home city of phoenix, arizona, where there are no homeless veterans. they have provided lodging for every homeless veteran in our city. >> there's patriotism, practicality. there's certainly practicality in hiring veterans and then the politics of the whole thing. >> i think sometimes it's used for political gain. but i am happy that we have had now in this last election some veterans including joni ernst and sullivan and tom cotton who served recent conflicts. you don't have to be a veteran to be a great senator and a great leader in military affairs, but it does help to have some veterans present so that they can give us the perspective that only those who
have that kind of experience can provide. >> ifill: well, then tell me, if you had to recommend one of these stories in this book, which one would you recommend? >> i think i might recommend oliver wendell holmes, jr. he came from a boston family, joined the harvard regimen which was a mixture of harvard -- ivy-league, harvard graduates and german-speaking americans. he learned the lessons of war. he was changed by the war, but yet he went on to serve as a justice of the united states supreme court. one little anecdote, every day at work, he had a tin ammunition box that he would bring his lunch to work with because it always reminded him of the conflict and, of course, it was the bloodiest, most fracture societal conflict we had ever been through and it defined america. >> in january, you will be chairman of the armed services
committee and you will have a different kind of platform. we see playing out even today the u.s. strategy on i.s.i.s. another beheading of an american aid working. what, as the chairman of the committee and with this new platform, would you do that will be different than what's being done right now? >> we are facing challenges unprecedented in my lifetime. we need to have ideas to start with from some of the smartest people in america. i also want to get proven military leaders to come down and talk directly to the members of our committee and congress so they can tell us what our challenges are. >> ifill: what is the value in bringing people from past administrations to advise this administration because you don't trust this administration? >> i think they learned the lessons. they've lived it from that side of the river and they know what
their challenges are, but also they have a great grasp of the overall situation in war. many of these new members, particularly, have never been involved with the big picture issues. >> ifill: i guess what i'm curious about, the pushback that the white house offers is the republicans are critical but they don't have their own solution. >> that's interesting to hear because everything that lindsey graham and i and joe lieberman said would happen, happened. we said a long time ago, we'll need a lot more boots on the ground. the president, just 1,500 more. i guarantee they will need more and they will need to arm the free syrian army and ignore the boundaries between the two countries. what we're seeing is a gradual escalation which then the escalation loses much of its impact. when we decided we were going to bomb i.s.i.s., we gave them a
week's warning. i mean, it's crazy. but everything that we have prescribed that needed to be done, if it had been done, we wouldn't be where we are today. >> ifill: for the final two years of the presidency, has it been hurt because of threats of executive action? >> i think it's hurt the environment and should be challenged in court because the president for months said he didn't have that kind of authority and now he is exercising the kind of authority that he said he didn't have, and i think it's clearly unconstitutional. but, frankly, shutting down the government is not the answer. >> ifill: you will have to fight the government shutdown fight again, aren't you? >> i hope we will prevent it from happening, both senator mcconnell and speaker boehner have said that is not the solution so i hope we can prevail. >> ifill: senator mccain, thank you very much. >> thank you, geb. >> ifill: my conversation with senator mccain continues
online where we discuss the value of military and civilian public service. >> woodruff: the national football league has been hit hard by controversial headlines recently, but tv ratings on game-day haven't suffered yet. yesterday, after the action finished on the field, the federal drug enforcement administration launched surprise raids to see if several teams were improperly using pain medication. jeffrey brown has more. >> brown: "the washington post" recorded dea agents conducted searches of at least three teams, the san francisco 49ers, the buccaneers and seattle seahawks. they were looking into the use of possible abuse of pain killing drugs in a lawsuit brought by former players. first of all, what exactly were
the agents looking for? >> well, they were looking for instances of inconsistencies in paperwork, improper paper yrk, lack of paperwork. unwe are the controlled substances acted, a physician in california has to have the proper registration in new york to dispeps prescription drugs if he comes here and attempts to treat a parent and hand them narcotic painkillers which is the sort of thing that the dea is looking into with the n.f.l. >> brown: so they're all tied to this class action lawsuit. what are the former players saying happened that led to this investigation? >> well, what triggered the investigation was a lawsuit by about 1300 former n.f.l. players, some recently retired, who allege in their lawsuit that the n.f.l. has a pattern of prescription drug abuse that doctors and trainers have
prescribed medications in excessive apartments over excessive periods of time, that they have handed out medication without prescriptions, unlabeled, those sorts of things. as one plaintiff attorney said, they've accused the n.f.l. of handing out these narcotic painkillers like halloween candy. >> brown: they picked three teams. do we know why and if it's limited to those teams or is this for the whole week? >> "the washington post" understanding based on our reporting is that they're looking at the entire league. this is not restricted to the teams that were inspected yesterday. we can add the cincinnati bengals and detroit lions to the list so we know of five teams. we believe there's another team or two out there that may have been inspected or looked at in this phase of the investigation but we can't name those. but the bottom line is that this is a piece or a step in larger dea investigation into
prescription drug usage in the n.f.l. >> brown: is part of it a real surprise to the teams? how did they respond? >> well, i think it was intended as a surprise to the teams. whether or not they got some sort of tip or had some sort of knowledge, i don't want. but the dea basically set out to pop quiz those teams and their medical staffs yesterday, as they moved through stadiums and airports. the idea was to examine a group of teams that was actually traveling on a sunday to look at their practices and their paperwork. to see if they were in compliance. and let me just interject that the new orleans dea spokesperson down in new orleans issued a statement this afternoon that the cincinnati bengals were looked at an and appeared to ben compliance. >> brown: you'v everyone knows s
a culture of violence and pain. it's not a surprise players are using these kind of drugs and there have been issues of getting back on the field too early. in that context, is all of this a surprise or is this really focusing on the legality of what's done? >> i don't think it's a surprise that n.f.l. players use national security painkillers. i don't think it's a surprise that there have been loose practices in the league. the dea has looked at individual teams before yesterday. there was a case a couple of years ago with the san diego chargers where they looked into their prescription practices, the same with the new orleans saints. but the dea up to this point had not conducted a comprehensive investigation into the league-wide practices concerning painkillers. so that's what's new here. you know, the interesting question is, you know, n.f.l. positions are confronted with a
real dilemma. what is the difference and the fine line between treating an injury and masking an injury? what is the fine line between, you know, administering painkillers in order to relieve pain and administering nationalc painkillers to enable a player to go back out and re-injure himself further? the question for the dea is they're concerned about is the n.f.l. culture of drug use and narcotic painkiller, prescription drug use creating ail district? that's the question the dea is most interested in. >> brown: very briefly, is the n.f.l. cooperating? what's their attitude? >> yes, the n.f.l. issued a statement last night that their teams had cooperated with the dea and, to their knowledge, there were no irregularities found in the steps conducted yesterday by the dea. the dea obviously is not tipping its hand to what it really was after yesterday or the overall, you know, scope of what it's looking at or, you know, who
it's looking at in particular. they're holding those cards pretty close to the vest. >> sally jenkins of "the washington post." thank you so much. >> thank you. >> ifill: finally tonight, how climate change may be affecting life in alaska as we know it. and the captivating images we see there from ice to marine life. newshour science correspondent miles o'brien went there to see for himself. >> reporter: alaska may seem like a place where things change quickly. the natural beauty is set in stone. it is as predictable as the caribou beside the road. make no mistake, things are changing here quickly and not for the better. alaska is at the frontier of climate change. scientists are scrambling to try
to understand it. >> we know that the arctic is warming more rapidly than most other places on earth. >> reporter: to catch up with university of maine paleontologist troy and his team we hopped on a plane rigged with skis that landed on the ruth glacier in the heart of the denali park. >> most glaciers are retreating. we would like to predict with better arck arcky -- accuracy wt will happen but it's hard to imagine they won't lose mass in this area. the question is how fast. >> reporter: the answer is unknowable if they don't know how much sites is here now. >> this specific study is to come up with ice depth measurement across the glacier. >glacier. >> reporter: seth campbell is a physicist with the corps of
engineers. he and abby bradford spent long days on skis pulling a ground penetrating radar up and down and across the glacier. >> a pulse is sent through the cable, down through the ice, reflects off the bedrock, returns back to the surface and returns and is recorded by this receiver cable. you know how fast radio travels through the ice, so based on how long it takes for the signal to be transferred and received we can tell how deep the ice is. sample two should come from a depth of 50 centimeters. >> reporter: they dug a pit 11.5 feet deep and have abby repel down to take readings. >> this is great! go! >> reporter: dutiful reporter that i am, i went in. >> so this is just one layer, one annual layer. this is this year's snowfall. and then right what we're standing on, where this stops,
covered with know now, but there's an ice layer. >> reporter: and you know that's the previous season? >> that's the previous season, yep. >> reporter: she weighs a volume of snow at various depths to determine the density. the hope is the layering they see in the pits matches the radar returns. >> there's thousands of glaciers in alaska and very few have had data gathered on them. so we're hoping to piece that puzzle together. >> reporter: getting back to the surface might have been easy for her, but for me, well, let's just say i didn't score any style points. later in camp, karl dug me a shallower pit. >> of course, since we're going deeper, we're going back in time. >> reporter: a thin wall backlit by the sun.
the key is the layers of snow and, most importantly, ice, proof to have the melt. >> layers in the snow pack are very analogous to tree rings. as we go through the layers, these are going back in time of the glacier and we get deeper and deeper. >> reporter: last season they went much deeper drilling out this long ice core a few miles away. it is nature's ancient history book for this glacier. >> so for the past 40 or 50 years, a number of ice layers that have formed each summer has been increasing and, so, we interpret that as meaning that the summertime temperatures in this area have gradually been warming over the past couple of decades. >> reporter: the vast majority of glacier ice on the planet lies in greenland and antarctica, so no surprise that's where most to have the attention and scientific effort is. but the people who come here to the mountains and the glaciers
say the ice here shouldn't be overlooked. >> the interesting thing about alaska is a lot of the glaciers have drastic changes caused by small temperature changes. >> reporter: 550 miles north off the sea ice on barrow, the notion that alaska rocks at a tipple point is not just academic, it's a matter of survival for a proud culture. the 2005 film "the eskimo and the whale" tells the story of the people trying to preserve their hunting tradition. >> the ice is shrinking. we have a lot of cracks in the ice so we have to watch them a lot more. when i was little, these ice piles here, they were ten times bigger. >> reporter: nelson is captain of a whale hunting team.
they rely on stable, thick ice to harpoon the 25 bowhead whales they're allowed to take each year for food. nelson works as a guide for scientists focused on the sea ice and the other end of the food chain, the tiny light-sensitive organisms that live in the ice. >> temperatures effects up here and ice extends up here, actually has profound effects on the marine community underneath the ice. >> reporter: ecologist craig is with lamont doherty observatory, columbia university. he and his team do a lot of coring as well, measuring the temperature of the ice at 10-feet intervals. they drop cameras through the holes. >> what do you hope to see?
look at bottom to see the pigmentation, this is all algae. >> reporter: during the winter, the algae hibernates in the ice, but in the spring it blooms and drops into the water. when and how fast that happens depends on how much light gets through the ice. that is changing as the ice shrinks, gets thinner and is covered by less snow. >> so what we're really interested in is then finding out what role this material plays in the total diet of these organisms. it's really hard to understand the impact of the loss of sea ice for -- without actually understanding what importance it has toward the underlying marine systems. >> reporter: algae is a producer of the food chain. marine biologist andy. >> we know it starts in the ice, grows in the ice, gets released
in the ice, ends up in the water, some sinks to the bottom. so the next question is who's eating it? >> reporter: they analyze all manner of small creatures to see what they're eating and by analyzing their tissue, what provides them the most nutrition. as they gather data, they are working their way up the chain. on this day they netted a jellyfish. >> jellyfish! >> reporter: cause enough for a science nerd happy dance on the ice. but beneath the surface here, there are grave concerns about what happens when the sea ice is dramatically diminished. >> large marine animals -- seals and beluga whales and bowhead whales, the polar bears -- all those organisms are here because it is an incredibly productive environment and can support the really big organisms because there are a lot of algae at the base of the food chain here. >> reporter: the amount of snowfall, the depth of the ice
supports a finely-honed balance that ultimately sustains the top of the food chain. here a single degree of change across the line between ice and water is changing everything. miles o'brien, pbs "newshour", barrow, alaska. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day, the parents of an american aid worker, beheaded by islamic state militants, urged prayers for peace. secretary of state john kerry insisted the united states will not be intimidated. and missouri governor jay nixon activated the national guard, in case there is new trouble in ferguson. a grand jury will decide any day whether to indict a white policeman for killing a black teen-ager, michael brown. >> ifill: on the newshour online right now, more international students are enrolled in american universities than ever before. we examine the increasingly globalized u.s. college campus, that's on the rundown.
that's at pbs.org/newshour. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, we'll look at how the u.s. government is trying to cripple the islamic state by cutting off its money. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you on-line and again here tomorrow evening, for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer. >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions
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